5 American Cities With a Booming Manufacturing Industry

It's a fairly well-accepted narrative that manufacturing in America is all but dead. Over 3 million manufacturing jobs were lost during the Great Recession, and what's left will eventually be outsourced -- or so the thinking goes.

But a closer look at the numbers shows that there are a number of big cities across the United States that are enjoying a healthy revival of manufacturing jobs. Below are the top five, as compiled by Forbes, and why they're doing so well.

5. Troy, Mich.

Source: troymi.gov

The auto industry was one of the toughest hit during the Great Recession, with both Chrysler and General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) needing massive bailouts from the U.S. government. But from the depths of the Recession, Troy is experiencing a comeback.

As part of what's known as the "Automotive Alley," Troy is home to 41 of the state's 330 research and development facilities -- providing support for GM, Chrysler, and Ford  (NYSE: F  ) . The greater Troy area has experienced a remarkable run of 26% growth in manufacturing jobs per year since 2009.   (NYSE: F  )

Of course, part of that is because there was nowhere to go but up, but that kind of growth is good news no matter how you look at it. Manufacturing jobs now account for 143,000 jobs in the greater Troy area. 

4. Oklahoma City

Source: Daniel Mayer, via Wikimedia Commons

If you follow the natural gas industry, and its boom over the past decade, you know that Oklahoma City is its epicenter. Led by Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  ) , which is the nation's second-largest natural gas extractor, energy companies have been attracting manufacturing jobs to the city in droves. 

While Chesapeake and other energy companies may not provide all the actual manufacturing jobs, they attract peripheral companies to the city. For instance, British drilling manufacturer Centek recently opened a new plant in Oklahoma City because there are nearly 700 rigs within a 200-mile radius. 

Back in 2009, there were about 23,000 manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma City. In just three short years, that number has jumped to 35,600 -- that's an annual growth rate of 15.7%. And if natural gas continues to catch on as an alternative fuel, it's likely that the growth of manufacturing jobs in the city won't be ending anytime soon.

3. Seattle

Source: Daniel Schwen, via Wikimedia Commons

Seattle is known for a lot of things -- the birth of the coffee movement, high-tech jobs, and a comfortable standard of living -- but manufacturing usually isn't one of them. That's somewhat because many believe that when Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago more than a decade ago, all the jobs left with it.

That simply isn't the case. Currently, Boeing employs over 80,000 people in the state of Washington altogether. In the greater Seattle area, the number of manufacturing jobs tops out at almost 170,000. The city has seen its manufacturing base increase payrolls by 12.9% per year since 2009.

2. Louisville, Ky.

Source: David Harpe, via Wikimedia Commons

Louisville's manufacturing jobs grew from 48,000 in 2009 to more than 72,000 in 2012. That type of growth -- 14.7% per year -- can largely be credited to two major factors. The first is that one of Ford's largest plants is located in the greater Louisville area. The plant produces the company's Super Duty line of trucks, which are the best-selling in America.

The second factor centers around GE (NYSE: GE  ) . For years, the company's appliances plant had been bleeding out manufacturing jobs. But in 2012, GE opened a brand-new plant for the manufacture of a new line of GeoSpring hybrid water heaters.

1. Houston

Source: Spacecaptain, via Wikimedia Commons

Like Oklahoma City, Houston benefits from being home to some of the largest energy companies in America. Metal fabrication has been a particular area of growth in the city, as energy companies look for the necessary tools to extract oil and gas from below the Earth's surface.

Houston's overall manufacturing base is enormous, almost twice as large as that of the next highest city on this list, with just under 250,000 individuals employed. That number was a much smaller 165,000 back in 2009, but thanks to yearly growth of 14.8% since then, lots of Houstonians are now employed in manufacturing.

The future of manufacturing
With the U.S. relying on the rest of the world for such a large percentage of our goods, many investors are ready for the end of the "made in China" era. Well, it may be here. Read all about the biggest industry disrupters since the personal computer in "3 Stocks to Own for the New Industrial Revolution." Just click here to learn more.


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